Coconut Oil: A Weight Management, Brain Nutrition & Heart Health Superfood

With technology having progressed tremendously in the past few years many scientists have started to examine everyday foods accessible to us in an attempt to determine if some of them have properties which we weren’t aware of before. This actually gave birth to the concept of superfoods (foods with incredibly high nutritional value) and paved the way for the scrupulous examination of countless food items.

Amongst them, some have shown to have true potential for weight loss, with one of the more promising ones being coconut oil. With coconut oil weight loss becomes something a bit easier to achieve, and here is why.

The Proof

The best way to illustrate the advantages of coconut oil for weight loss would be to look into a study which sought to determine the extent of the oil’s benefits on the human body. A clinical study was performed on overweight men and women who were separated into two different groups.

Everything they were subjected to was the same, from their diets to their exercising routines, with one little difference; one group was fed olive oil while the other one was fed coconut oil. At the end of the experiment it was observed that those who had consumed coconut oil lost 7 pounds, which is 4 more pounds than those who were fed olive oil lost.

What Makes Coconut Oil Effective

So how precisely does this oil act on the human body to make it lose more weight? According to Dr. Peter Jones, it has to do with the molecular structure of the oil extract. There are certain fatty acids found in this oil, and in comparison to other ones, they are much easier for the body to process, being “more water soluble”.

In turn, this means that these acids gain quicker access to the liver, where they are used in order to be turned into energy. In other words, coconut oil is simply much easier for the body to digest and process into energy.

To give you a better idea of the kind of effect it has on the human body, imagine that you have just eaten a regular meal of a thousand calories, consisting of, say chicken, rice and a salad. Typically, the human body would only use about ten percent of the calories it has ingested and turn them into energy, storing the other ones in the form of fat.

However, if you replace say 200 calories of chicken from that meal with 200 calories of coconut oil, your body is going to use between fifteen and twenty percent of the calories it has ingested, leaving less of them to be stored as fat.

While it is true that with coconut oil weight loss can be achieved faster than without out, you should keep in mind that just like every oil, it contains a lot of calories and saturated fat; you should only include it in your diet if you are ready to consume less of other foods to make way for a bit of oil.

Coconut oil has shown a lot of promise for combating brain disorders and degeneration of brain function. One other “mundane” application for coconut oil is in weight loss – but I guess you knew that already.

Coconut oil is reputed to have strong anti-inflammatory properties as well and it has been linked to helping prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A very recent study, in 2016, has shown how giving people with depression small doses of traditional anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol (Panadol)and aspirin can help lift their depression – or prevent it.

It’s the anti-inflammatory property of these drugs (called NSAIDs or non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) that is at work. Coconut oil, apparently, has done just that for centuries, for communities that use it as a staple in cooking…

Why coconut oil is so awesome

Coconut oil contains nutrients called medium-chain triglycerides. The body uses these for energy, thereby leaving available glucose for the brain. As we have already seen, coconut oil also has a beneficial effect on blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. And of course anything that benefits your heart and blood circulation also indirectly benefits your brain.

Coconut oil is a super food. If you know any African superfoods join the discussion and let us know at LifestyleAfrica’s african super foods forum.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Control Weight Gain, Type 2 Diabetes & High Cholesterol Naturally

Hundreds, if not thousands of different plans and suggestions have been designed and given from person to person in recent years in hopes of discovering something that can help humanity put its weight problems in the past.

While we may have not exactly found the magic cure yet, some pretty interesting discoveries have been made in the past few years, and one of the more intriguing ones revolves around apple cider vinegar weight loss. Wait… what? Apple cider vinegar? What does that have to do with weight loss? Well, as it turns out, it has a ton to do with it, and what follows is an examination of how the two are related.

Apple Cider Vinegar Makes You Feel Fuller

One of the greatest problems with losing weight is that feeling of emptiness you have inside of you, and not in a metaphorical sense. Having an empty stomach can be a painfully nagging experience as it starts to release acids and eat itself. However, for most people staying below their calorie intake limit is more important than anything, and so they power through this unpleasant experience.

However, as it turns out a 2005 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has demonstrated that adding small amounts of vinegar to your meals will make you feel fuller, and the more apple cider vinegar you put in there, the stronger that feeling is going to be. The best way to ingest it would be to sip it along with a glass of water, or simply add it in a drink of your choice, bit by bit.

Apple Cider Vinegar Can Stabilize Sugar Levels for Diabetics

Let’s face it, most of us who want to lose weight aren’t just self-conscious about how we look… we are doing it because we start to feel the toll of being overweight.

A 2005 study performed on a few test subjects with diabetes demonstrated that apple cider vinegar helped to stabilize their sugar and cholesterol levels; lessening the need for them to eat carbs and sugar in order to stabilize themselves. If you aren’t diabetic, then it can still help by controlling your sugar cravings.

apple cider vinegar for weight loss

Apple Cider Vinegar Lowers Cholesterol

Last but not least, apple cider vinegar is actually quite handy in order to stabilize people’s LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

An experiment performed on rats which did not suffer from diabetes demonstrated that by simply consuming apple cider vinegar on a daily basis in small doses they can significantly lower their LDL cholesterol levels while raising the HDL ones.

Regardless of whether or not you are trying to lose weight, this is something which can still be useful to you; your cholesterol levels can very well be out of whack, even if you think yourself to be in good shape.

And so, as you can see, the apple cider vinegar weight loss benefits are quite impressive, but that’s the least of it; our research into the potential behind this vinegar has only just begun.

It is very possible that apple cider vinegar has other, untold advantages, and at this point, the only excuse not to consume it is an unfortunate allergy to vinegar. Yes, it isn’t exactly the tastiest drink in your house, but there are always practical ways to dilute the taste, such as the ones mentioned above (sipping it along with water or mixing it into a drink bit by bit).

How to Make Your Own Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Given all these health benefits of apple cider vinegar many of you reading this in Africa will be asking, where to buy the stuff? I’m sure some of the high end supermarkets carry it. Still, if you can get raw apples cheaply where you live you may consider making it at home. Apparently its very easy to make… and I will be trying this at home myself! Here are some instructions for homemade apple cider vinegar: Source – TalesOfAKitchen,com

“Making your own ACV is a dead easy affair to tackle and hilariously inexpensive to boot. It might just be the easiest recipe ever shared on TalesofaKitchen. And the most useful at a world wide level – no matter the season, no matter the country or the continent, I know there must be some cheap, organic, local apples you can get your hands on. And a knife, surely you have one you can dust off. And then just empty a big ol’ jar, clean it really well and brace yourself with some patience. These babies need to ferment for quite a while to give us a whole lotta bacterial goodness..

The recipe I used calls for whole apples. Anything you can find, really. But you’d be happy to know you can make ACV using just scraps like the cores and peels. Yep, you can eat your apple and ferment it too. So if there’s any apple pies baking in your near future, make sure you keep those scraps and put them to good use..

Also good to know is that the fermentation process depends on season – less during summer, bit longer during colder months. You will know your vinegar is ready when you will notice a dark, cloudy bacterial foam – this is called the Mother and can easily be noticed when holding the vinegar to light. This is bacteria we love and cherish! Because it’s full of enzymes and minerals that over-processed vinegars do not have

Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 2-3 months
Ingredients

3 small apples (core and peel included, no stem)
3 tsp raw sugar (I used muscavado)
filtered water to cover

Instructions

Wash and chop your apples into medium sized pieces (or use the peels and cores of 6-7 small apples after making a pie). Place them in a clean, rinsed and sterilized wide mouth jar.
Mix the sugar with 1 cup of water and pour on top of the apples.
Add more water if needed to cover the apples.
Cover the jar with a paper towel or a cheesecloth and secure it with a band. This keeps nasties away while letting the liquid breathe.
Place the jar in a warm, dark place for 2-3 weeks – I just kept it in my pantry.
Strain out the liquid and discard the apple pieces.
Return the liquid to the same jar and cover it again (same paper or cheesecloth).
Return the jar to the same warm, dark place and leave it do its thing for roughly 4 to 6 weeks, stirring with a plastic or wooden spoon every few days or so. I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t that organised with my stirring (oftentimes forgot), but my vinegar still loved me.
After the first 4 weeks, you can begin to also taste your vinegar and once it reaches an acidity you like, you can actually transfer it to a bottle with a lid and begin using it.

For updated instructions you should read the full article here:

Image: benefits of apple cider vinegar- Source: DietOfLife.com

3 Powerful Foods For Weight Management & Weight loss

Losing weight is never easy, and maintaining your optimal weight following a weight loss program is not easy either. And so, every little advantage helps… in other words, you need to take every weight management measure you can, no matter how light or small or it may be.

While there are tons of weight management techniques to discuss, one of the simplest and most effective ones consists of changing up your nutrition, and we’re not talking about eating less… no, we are talking about eating more.

Indeed, weight loss foods actually exist, and what’s best, you can get buy tons of them right in your local market. What follows is an introduction to some of the more basic foods that can help you lose weight, hopefully helping to you get started on making a diet plan.

Filling Yourself with Mushrooms

Probably one of the main gripes you have with maintaining a low-calorie diet is that you tend to get hungry pretty fast and often, turning the dieting phase of your weight loss plan into a real nightmare.

The problem doesn’t really stem from the fact that you are not eating enough carbs and calories… it stems from simply not eating foods that actually fill you up. Mushrooms of practically any kind (save for poisonous ones) do a great job at filling up your stomach and killing that dreaded feeling of hunger. As a matter of fact, research actually demonstrated that people who eat dishes with mushroom instead of steak report to be just as full, even though they have consumed far less calories and fat.

Apples as a Fiber Source

When losing weight having good bowel movements should be one of your top priorities; if your system is not able to clean up and eject its waste quickly and efficiently, you will feel heavy, bloated, and simply lack energy and motivation to be productive. Unfortunately, many of the foods which have fiber are also rich in other less-than-desirable ingredients; gaining the fiber you need every day without the calories or the fat requires you to walk a very fine line… like a tightrope walker if you will.

In any case, recent studies which were published in the Journal of Nutrition have revealed that even though apples may only contain around 90 to 100 calories, each one contains around 4 grams of fiber, which is a lot. Long story short, you can easily maintain the daily recommended fiber dosage without breaking any calorie or fat intake limits you have set for yourself by simply eating more apples.

Control your Appetite with Hot Chili Peppers

Many nutrition-related studies have recently been performed in order to discover the benefits of hot chili peppers, and most of them have shown some very encouraging results. For instance, it was discovered that ingesting only one little hot pepper half an hour before a meal, regardless of the method of ingestion, actually reduces the user’s appetite by at least 10% and helps them maintain that full feeling for longer than usual.

As you can guess, there are many more weight loss foods for you to discover out there and include in your diet. However, keep in mind that relying on a dietary change alone in order to lose weight will be quite ineffective, or in the best case scenario, take a really long time.

You need to remember to maintain an exercising regime along with a dietary one; only by combining the two will you be able to turn your life around and build for yourself the body you have always wanted.

A Standing Innovation for Africa – Standing Desks Could Make Up For a Poor Exercise Culture

benefits of standing at work

A survey sometime in 2013 found that many of us spend up to 12 hours a day sitting on our bottoms looking at computers or watching television. If you throw in the seven hours we spend sleeping then that adds up to a remarkable 19 hours a day being sedentary…  And so it’s not news that most of us are guilty of excess sitting. We sit at work, in the car and at home, moving only to shift from one seat to another. Source: BBC News Magazine.

The fact is that people who sit a lot have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and early death.

But this is news… experiments have proved that standing an hour or more a day can reduce the risk of obesity, reduce cancer risk, reduce blood sugar levels, make you live longer, and results in a better posture. (The Benefits and Considerations of Using a Standing Desk)

Consider these mouthwatering results from a 2011 study:

“Americans increase their life expectancy two years by reducing sitting time from the standard six hours to just three hours per day, instead.”

benefits of standing at workUsing the standing desk is a good idea and I would recommend that employers in Africa consider installing this innovation in offices and workplaces, and maybe even governements. But before that can happen, as an individual you can improve your situation without a standing desk. Even if you just stand to stretch or walk to the bathroom, or to read the paper, clocking upwards of a half hour doing this will greatly improve your quality of life… guaranteed.

In Africa where even a gym membership is beyond the means of most, and exercise equipment for the home out of the question, this could be the best lifestyle news for years to come… We are very sedentary, both educated and uneducated middle-class Africans all across the continent, from Namibia to Nigeria and Kenya to Cape Verde.

This is what I have done before I get a standing desk installed in my home office: I have stacked up several old laptop boxes on my desk and placed my laptop on it so that I can work standing. I’m starting slow, so I work at the standing desk for 15 minutes, at least 4 or 5 times a day, I use this destop timer app (focus booster) to make sure I do not cheat myself. Feel free to use any timer app for desktop or mobile.

Some immediate benefits I noticed was an increease in blood circulation in my feet, and a reduction in the sensation of heat in my feet at night. I have suffered from “restless legs syndrome” for some years now…

If you are interested in getting a standing desk designed for you, or to use a cheap and cheerful makeshift gig like mine, this is what they recommend:

“If you want to improve your posture and reduce eye strain, a standing desk is a smart option. It’s important to set it up the right way, though. Your computer screen should sit just above resting eye level, so you have to look up slightly to see it. This keeps you from hunching over or slouching as you tap away on your keyboard. The simple act of standing will also improve your core strength, leading to better overall posture.”

(Via HuffingtonPost.com)

Image source: AuthorityNutrition.com

Breastfeeding Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer in African Women

breastfeeding and breast cancer

It has been known for long that breastfeeding is good for babies. And now it turns out, breastfeeding can help prevent breast cancer for African-American (read Black) women.

Breast cancer is one of those deadly diseases to which African women are especially at risk. According to the Huffington Post,

We’ve known for some time that African-American women are more likely than all other ethnicities to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and with disease that is more advanced stage. African-American women are also much more likely to die from breast cancer than any other group of women.

breastfeeding and breast cancer

But now there is this good news. If we can convince more African mothers to breastfeed instead of giving their babies baby formula we will be killing two birds with one stone…

For those African-American women who are premenopausal and considering having children, there is another important risk-reducing step: Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of breast cancer, including the most aggressive types of breast cancer for which treatment options are limited.

The combination of maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and — if possible — breastfeeding can help African-American women lower their risk of breast cancer and provide significant protection against the most aggressive forms of the disease.

Breastfeeding currently is not terribly popular among young African mothers for a number of reasons. Most working mothers may feel it isn’t even practical. But now they have reasons to reconsider.

There have been reports of fake baby formula on the market, and a lot of it no doubt ends up in Africa. This time let’s not kill two birds with one stone – let’s save two African lives!

(via HuffingtonPost.com)

Image source – HuffPost.com